On this day in sport: A key date for NHL great Gretzky and another World Cup for Australia

By Sports Desk March 29, 2020

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  • Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez to self-isolate after bio-security protocol breach Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez to self-isolate after bio-security protocol breach

    Mohammad Hafeez has been placed in self-isolation on the eve of Pakistan's second Test with England after breaching bio-security protocols by posing for a photo with a member of the public.

    The picture, taken on the golf course adjacent to the on-site hotel at the Ageas Bowl, was posted on the Pakistan all-rounder's Twitter page on Wednesday.

    The course is part of Pakistan's bio-secure bubble but interaction with others is not permitted as per social distancing rules and former skipper Hafeez, who is not a part of the Test squad but there for the limited-overs leg of the tour, must now await the results of a fresh coronavirus test.

    Pakistan said in a statement: "As it was evident from the photograph that Hafeez had breached the two-metre social distancing protocol and following a consultation process with the team doctor, the team management has decided to isolate him until he returns a negative Covid-19 test.

    "Hafeez underwent the Covid-19 test late Wednesday afternoon and the result is expected at some stage on Thursday. The decision to put Hafeez in isolation has been taken for his and, the safety and security of everyone around him.

    "The team management believes it was an inadvertent mistake, but a good reminder for everyone on the importance of following the bio-secure protocols, which have been designed for the health and safety of everyone involved in the series.

    "The team management has updated the England and Wales Cricket Board of its decision."

    Meanwhile, Pakistan have named an unchanged squad for the second Test of their three-match series with England, which they trail 1-0 following an agonising defeat at Old Trafford last week.

    The tourists were undone by a stand of 139 between Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes in their first match back in six months because of the coronavirus pandemic, going down to a three-wicket defeat.

  • Root: Pakistan first Test key in England's progress towards number one in the world Root: Pakistan first Test key in England's progress towards number one in the world

    Joe Root believes England's first Test win over Pakistan was exactly the sort of victory they need to build on if they have serious designs on becoming the world's best team.

    England had their backs against the wall for much of last week at Old Trafford but made a remarkable recovery to win the series opener after Chris Woakes and Jos Buttler led a successful 277-run chase.

    Root's side are now preparing for the second match against Pakistan at Southampton, where they can clinch the series and the captain can claim a seventh Test win in succession.

    Yet Root did not feel he performed his duties particularly effectively in Manchester, although the match moved the team in the right direction.

    "I didn't think I had a very good game last week, to be honest," he told reporters. "I made a few errors, tactical errors, but that can happen from time to time.

    "You're not always going to get it right. I think most importantly, it's very clear for the guys how we're looking to play.

    "Those messages are consistent and we're seeing improvement week in, week out. That's a really promising sign for the group, and long may that continue.

    "Most importantly, we're looking forward, it's not about me, it's not about how many games we win with me as captain, it's about us getting consistently better over a long period of time, looking towards being the number one side in the world.

    "If we can maintain that attitude collectively, winning obviously breeds confidence all the time. And people putting in performances like Jos and Wizz [Woakes] did on that final day will breed confidence in the rest of the guys, too.

    "The other players, young batters in the team, looking at those two getting the job done, will think, 'I want that to be me next time, I want to be the one stood there at the end having won the game when the heat was on'.

    "The more and more we can keep performing like that and keep winning, the quicker I think our development as a side will move forward."

  • Pakistan look to cash in on 'huge loss' of Ben Stokes from England series Pakistan look to cash in on 'huge loss' of Ben Stokes from England series

    Pakistan will look to capitalise on the "huge loss" of Ben Stokes from the England side by taking advantage of a lighter middle order, says bowling coach Waqar Younis.

    Stokes withdrew from the rest of the series, which England lead 1-0 after a three-wicket win at Old Trafford, to travel to New Zealand for family reasons.

    The world's top Test all-rounder had initially been limited to the role of specialist batsman for the first Test because of a thigh injury but came on to bowl in the second innings to help England dismiss the tourists for 169 with the wickets of Mohammad Rizwan and Shaheen Shah Afridi.

    England improbably chased down 277 to win, though Stokes was not a major factor in that pursuit as he followed a first-innings duck with nine in the second innings.

    However, captain Joe Root is under no illusion as to the impact of his absence, telling a media conference: "It's a huge loss for us. For a long period of time, he's been arguably our best player.

    "He offers so much in all departments. He's a big leader within the group - vice-captain, as well - and, of course, we'll miss him dearly.

    "We're all thinking about him. But it's an opportunity for someone to come in and try to fill those boots.

    "That's always exciting for someone to take on that challenge. Whoever gets that responsibility has to try to step up to the plate and trust in their own game to help us hopefully get two up in the series."

    Waqar does not necessarily see Stokes' exit from the series as a boost to the tourists given their bowling performance against him.

    But with Zak Crawley expected to come into the side, he does see potential for Pakistan to have greater success against England's middle order.

    "He's [Stokes] the kind of batsman that takes the game away from you single-handedly at times," said Waqar.

    "I wouldn't say it's a boost because of the way we bowled at him in the previous game. I thought we had very clear plans and I think we executed really well.

    "Yes he's not around, it's unfortunate for cricket but there's no doubt he's a match-winner. If he's not around, England will probably be a touch light when you talk about the middle order. We're going to talk about it and try to cash in."

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